Elah was founded in 1979 by and for immigrants from the Netherlands,
and was one of the pioneers in Israel in the field of psycho-social assistance to Holocaust survivors. Over the years, we have expanded our field of work, and today we are helping thousands of people who are in emotional distress, or coping with loss or trauma. Our target groups include Holocaust survivors and their families, families who experienced sudden and traumatic loss, and families of fallen soldiers.
As one of the oldest and most experienced trauma centers, Elah has become a leading organization for support in the event of loss and bereavement.
Elah provides a broad range of services, including individual, couple, family and group therapy, psychiatric counseling, and a wide variety of social and group activities. Treatments at Elah are given without delay, in the strictest confidence, and with special attention to our clients’ cultural background. After the first meeting (intake), a treatment program is set up, based on the client’s wishes with regards to language, treatment method, and the gender of the therapist.
Our team consists of over 300 therapists: social workers, psychologists, psychotherapists, couple and family therapists, a sex therapist, art, drama and music therapists, animal therapists, bibliotherapists, a clinical criminologist and spiritual caregivers. In addition, Elah is assisted by almost 100 volunteers.
Elah cooperates with government institutions, non-profits, and businesses, and seeks to improve professional care through the introduction and distribution of new models of treatment, in an effort to contribute to the well-being of our clients, and to the creation of a more resilient society.
For its volunteer work among Holocaust survivors, Elah was awarded the 2015 “Decoration of Light” of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims.
In 2012, Elah received the honorary award of the Israel Gerontological Society, for its unique contribution to the elderly in Israel.
If you, your family, or your staff is in need of support, please contact our office, 03-6910921.
Elah Center for Coping with Loss is committed to the emotional and social well-being of the community. With the help of donations, we provide psychotherapy to people without sufficient financial resources.
Elah is recognized by the Israeli and Dutch tax authorities as an institution for tax-deductible donations. Tax-deductible donations from the USA/Canada/UK can be made through our website.
Elah receives the yearly certificate of proper management (nihul takin) from the Israeli Registrar of Associations.
Yahel Shachar - chairman
Amos van Raalte - treasurer
Amiram Klein - secretary
Sarit Tromp-Sandormirsky - vice chair
Mary Ben Sinai - member
Bennie Leezer, general director
Marina Shtark, clinical director, dir. Therapy Center
Rona Ackerman, dir. Crisis Intervention and Resilience
Margo Moyal, dir. Help Centers
Through our help centers in Haifa, Hadera, Kfar Kana and Jerusalem, we offer support and mental care to the immediate families of victims of homicide, suicide or traffic accidents.
The death of a close relative is a difficult experience, especially if the loss is sudden and death is unnatural. Sudden loss by cause of a traumatic event such as murder, suicide or a traffic accident, can trigger intense emotional and psychological distress, and often heralds the start of an intense grieving process. Help and assistance by professionals in the first stages of bereavement is crucial for the healing-process.
The Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services, in cooperation with Elah and the association “Bishvil HaHayim” (Path to Life), maintains eight regional help centers, where immediate relatives are assisted, free of charge.
Elah manages four of these centers: in Haifa, Kfar Kana, Hadera and Jerusalem. ‘Bishvil HaHayim’ manages the centers in Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Beer Sheva and Tira.
The Help Centers offer the following services: support by professionals and volunteers; referral to different kinds of therapy, spiritual care; facilitation of support groups; national events for families and professionals, such as memorial ceremonies and seminars.
Immediate relatives of murder victims are entitled to legal aid from the Legal Aid department of the Ministry of Justice.
People who have suffered loss, but are not entitled to state-subsidized mental aid, can turn to Elah's Therapy Center.
Since 1979 Elah has devoted herself to the mental care of Holocaust survivors. We are proud to state that Elah was the first organization in Israel to provide psychological assistance to this special group.
As the years pass by, Holocaust survivors often feel increasingly dependent on external care and support. At an older age, they are confronted with multiple loss: the loss of a partner and sometimes of a child, the loss of friends, and the loss of physical and cognitive functions. When it comes to Holocaust survivors, these confrontations can cause a sudden recurrence of painful memories of the war, that manifest themselves in feelings of sadness, despair and loneliness. In these cases, psychological counseling can offer relief.
Elah is a provider of mental care for the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority. Treatment is free of charge for survivors who are eligible according to the criteria of the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority, and is provided by professional, experienced and attentive therapists. They receive their clients in one of our regional clinics, or, in case of impaired mobility, visit clients at home.
For Holocaust survivors with cognitive impairments we provide alternative treatments using art, music or animals.
In addition, Elah facilitates therapeutic and social groups in retirement homes, day care centers, social clubs and welfare agencies. In these groups, survivors discuss a variety of issues pertaining to their lives, then and now, in a pleasant and uplifting atmosphere. The social interaction that the groups provide, helps to relieve feelings of loneliness and has a positive influence on the mental and cognitive well-being of survivors.
Family members of Holocaust survivors who are in need of therapy, can turn to Elah's Therapy Center.
During our lifetimes, we all experience difficulties and loss: the death of a loved one, divorce, discharge, children leaving home, the loss of physical functions or status. Often we are able to cope by ourselves, but if our pain and sorrow turns into distress and anxiety, it is advisable to seek help.
Psychotherapy is suitable for people of all ages. The therapist helps the patient understand the cause and nature of the problems, to deal with emotions, and to tackle difficult situations, all the while striving to improve the client’s quality of life. Treatment can be short-term or long-term, individually, with a spouse or other family members.
In addition to psychotherapy, Elah offers psychiatric treatments and counseling on the use of medication in case of mental health problems.
At Elah's Therapy Center we work with a large team of professional and experienced therapists, and offer various treatment methods, including psycho-dynamic therapy, CBT, logo-therapy, narrative therapy, sex therapy, creative therapies, and spiritual care.
The Therapy Center responds to calls immediately and does not have a waiting list. Our therapists maintain strict privacy standards, and offer a high level of service.
Treatment services in the Therapy Center are free of charge for the following groups:
. Families who lost immediate relatives as a result of homicide, traffic accidents or suicide (see Help Centers).
• Bereaved families of IDF soldiers (including a limited number of applicants who are not recognized by the Ministry of Defense).
• Immediate relatives of terror victims, funded by the National Insurance Institute (only referrals through the NII).
•Holocaust survivors who are recognized by the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority.
. Lone soldiers who have been referred by the Michael Levin Center for Lone Soldiers.
Treatment services in the Therapy Center are subsidized for the following groups:
• People who have experienced traumatic loss due to illness or accidents.
• Immediate relatives of Holocaust survivors.
• Immigrants from the Netherlands and their offspring.
• Students of the Open University.
• Employees of the Israel Electric Corporation and of Israel Railways (only referrals through the employer)
In addition to face-to-face counseling in our regional clinics, Elah also provides online therapy for individuals, couples or families. One of the distinctive benefits of online treatment is its accessibility and availability. Treatment via phone, video call, zoom or Skype can be offered discretely, at the time and place of the client’s convenience.
The Dutch community in Israel has been closely associated with Elah from the beginning. Elah was founded in 1979 by and for Dutch immigrants, and until today the Dutch community is one of our main target groups.
All members of the Dutch community and their families are eligible for subsidized treatments (individual, couple or family therapy) in Dutch or Hebrew. Elah organizes social groups for the Dutch in various regions of the country. These groups act as a supportive community, and help maintain the ties with Dutch culture, language and identity. We have also maintain a network of Dutch volunteers, who assist the older members of the community, and we organize national events for the Dutch in Israel, including the annual commemoration of the Holocaust.
Since 2016, Elah offers an alternative form of assistance, called spiritual care, to people experiencing sudden loss. The underlying assumption of this treatment method is that in times of hardship, when existential questions present themselves, people like to address their own inner spiritual resources, from which they can draw strength, meaning, hope and healing. Under the guidance of the spiritual counselor, and with the help of various techniques like poetry analysis, listening to life stories, philosophy, writing, personal prayers or breathing exercises, contact with the intimate inner self can be established.
Treatment is carried out by counselors who are trained and licensed by the Association for Spiritual Care in Israel.
Elah maintains a network of about 100 volunteers, who take on a variety of tasks, either within the community itself, or at the Elah office. Some volunteers pay social calls to the elderly, others help with administrative chores in our clinics, and yet others manage the Dutch library.
All volunteers are individually supervised. They also participate in group supervision, and attend our biennial seminar for volunteers.
In the Help Centers Elah set up a volunteer network as well, consisting of people who suffered traumatic loss themselves, and want to share their insights and experience. The volunteers are present at general meetings and events for families who experienced sudden loss, with the aim of helping them cope. The volunteers are trained and supervised by staff members.
Clients who experienced traumatic loss, often benefit from group meetings with companions in distress. The opportunity to listen and respond to each other, to understand and learn from each other, can prove to be an engaging, motivating and empowering experience.
Elah maintains several therapeutic and social groups:
-Therapeutic groups for Holocaust survivors. The interaction with companions in distress can be a source of mutual assistance and personal growth. Our therapeutic groups consist of a limited number of participants, who share their experiences and discuss how to deal with the past today. Therapeutic groups are offered in nursing homes, institutes for protected living, day centers, club houses and welfare institutions throughout the country.
-Social groups for Holocaust survivors. In these groups, Holocaust survivors meet with age-peers, and in a safe and pleasant environment discuss issues relating to their lives. The aim of the groups is to relieve feelings of anxiety, distress and loneliness, through the use of innovative techniques such as gardening, writing and painting, mindfulness, movement, theater and music.
Elah also maintains social groups that use particular themes to stimulate and enhance the participant's involvement and interaction. Topics include:
"Photo album of my life" (personal photos), "Revolving doors" (about important decisions), "Through the stomach" (recipes and home remedies) and "A place in my heart" (special places).
The social groups for Holocaust survivors are offered in nursing homes, institutes of protected living, day centers, clubhouses and welfare institutions throughout the country.
In addition, Elah offers:
-Therapeutic groups for the "Second Generation" Holocaust survivors.
-Support groups for immediate families of victims of criminal homicide, suicide or traffic accidents.
-Support groups for parents who have lost a child due to illness.
-Social groups for people from the Netherlands. (see above)
To keep our professional development continuous, to improve our knowledge and skills, and to provide a balanced and sustainable work environment, Elah offers all its social workers and therapists supervision and regular learning opportunities.
During the years we have gained a lot of experience in the field of mental care and psychological assistance to Holocaust survivors, and to people who experienced traumatic loss. This experience we share with our colleagues, social workers and therapists through lectures and at conferences. In addition, we aim to integrate professional insights and research in our models for coping with loss, and to keep our models of volunteer management updated.
Elah has been recognized as a practical training institute for students of the faculty of social work at the University of Tel Aviv, and similar programs.
Workplace accidents can have a major impact on employees. Experience shows that rapid intervention by mental health workers is essential to process events and to prevent the development of post-traumatic stress syndrome. Elah offers customized treatment plans, based on the specific circumstances and the wishes of the employees.
We offer a range of lectures and workshops on a wide variety of topics, that are relevant to the elderly population, to Holocaust survivors and to volunteers.
Workshops usually consist of several meetings, led by an experienced group counselor, with a maximum of 12 participants per group.
-Every other year we organize a day of fun and learning for our volunteers.
-On the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day we organize a memorial ceremony for the Dutch community, both in the center and in the north of the country.
-As part of our work at the Help Centers, we organize separate annual memorial ceremonies for victims of murder and victims of traffic accidents. For families who have suffered loss because of suicide, we organize an annual March for Life.
-Elah organizes seminars and conferences for professionals, and is an active partner in the planning committee of the International Conference on Loss, Bereavement, and Human Resilience, that is held in Israel every three years.
Elah Center for Coping with Loss (r.a.)
Yigal Alon Street 157, office 941, Tel Aviv 6744365